As you’re considering switching from staff nurse to travel nurse, there are a number of things to think about. Working as a traveler is a different lifestyle than you would experience as a veteran staff nurse. While you have less influence, if any, on making changes at the facility where you work, you also have the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge, work in a new place, and in many cases, make more money. There are pros and cons to both options. Here are the major differences between the two and what to do when considering a travel position.
You will get paid differently.
As a travel nurse, you will get paid differently than as a staff nurse. Be sure you ask questions and understand how your taxes will differ. You will likely be a 1099 contract employee which means taxes are not taken out of your paycheck: that’s your responsibility. That means saving a portion of each check when it comes to tax time.
Your vacation, sick time, and benefits will change.
While your schedule is more flexible in terms of being able to take time between contracts, the reality is that while you’re on contract, vacation, sick time, and benefits will differ based on the facility that you are at. If you love having your vacations scheduled for the year, being a travel nurse may be an adjustment for you.
You may have to move more often.
If you want to experience living in different places while still being able to have a career, travel nursing is worth considering. Every 13 weeks you will have the opportunity to decide if you want to go somewhere new or extend your contract. We don’t guarantee contract extensions, even though they do happen often. The best way to ensure an extension or new contract is to keep in contact with your AB Staffing recruiter during the duration of your assignment.
Your recruiter will be your best resource.
To be successful as a travel nurse, it is important to find the agency and recruiter that is right for you. As you’re researching, ask colleagues for referrals and ask your recruiter to speak to other travelers. The conversations will give you an idea of what to expect. They will be the person you go to with questions and concerns, so get to know them and ask lots of questions. We’ve written the article Questions to Ask Your Travel Nurse Recruiter which includes broad questions like describing the onboarding process to specific questions about housing.
Organize your certifications and other documents.
No matter where you’re placed, as a travel nurse, you need to be ready. This includes the time after you’ve chosen an agency and before you accept your first assignment. It is especially important to always have an updated resume, certification paperwork, and references readily available. We recommend digitizing these, so they are ready to send for any assignment submission. In our article Tips to Get Hired as a Travel Nurse, we offer specifics about these and more.
You may be treated differently when switching from staff nurse to travel nurse.
As a staff nurse, you probably had an influence on department decisions and priority for vacation days and shift changes. This will not be the case as a travel nurse. You’re the new person on the block, and like any new employee, it will take time to get to know people and earn their trust. To combat feelings of being left out of the loop, we encourage you to ask your recruiter how many other travelers are at the facility so you can connect with them to understand what to expect.
You will need to make housing arrangements.
Your AB Staffing Recruiter will advise you as to what is generally available for your assignment. Our Housing Department will assist you in finding what is available that best suits your needs. In our article Housing Tips for Traveling Medical Professionals, we discuss tips like walking through the location, even by virtual tour, prior to signing a lease, reading the lease thoroughly to understand what is involved, including rules for pets if you’re taking a pet, financial preparations, and connecting with other travel nurses at your new facility. The better you understand what you need in terms of housing, the easier it will be to find the right location for you.